Friday, February 27, 2015

Seeds for Mankind

When I attended the "International Training Seminar on Sustainable Agriculture in an Environmental Perspective" in Sweden in 2003, we have several reading materials. Among them was "Seeds for Mankind", published by the International Seed Federation (ISF), May 2002.

(This photo from
The monograph is reader-friendly even for non-scientists. Good economic sense. For instance, its conclusion suggested that the public sector should refrain from being active in the competitive area… Governments should focus on their roles as regulators and developers of infrastructures..

Below was my summary of that good paper.

Seeds for mankind

Modern Plant Breeding
It is a two-step process: (a) creation of genetic variability, (b) selection of cultivars for specific purposes. It use the laws of heredity (discovered by Mendel, 1856) and statistics (developed by Fisher and Pearson, around 1860)

Objectives of Plant Breeding:

1. Productivity: about 30-60% of yield increases is due to genetic improvement Hardiness/Yield

2. Stability: show more adaptability than low-yielding older varieties

3. Diseases and Pest Resistance: by using existing resistance in species, and by genetic engineering

4. Biodiversity, in particular:
(a) Crop genetic diversity – bet. 6,000 to 7,000 new varieties are protectedannually in the UPOV member states,
(b) Biotape protection – preservation of places where species live

5. Product Quality, in particular:
(a) Technical quality processibility of the raw material,
(b) Food quality – ability of food to keep sensory characteristics and physical qualities under given conditions

6. Crop Management: for crop protection and minimizing soil tillage
Regional Adaptation: facilitate the introduction of new promising crops to other regions of the world.

Production and Marketing of High Quality Seed

Too often, new and better varieties released by plant breeders are not produced and commercialized to farmers.
Seed Production: maintain genetic quality, maintain seed viability and health
Seed Marketing: market research à seed promotion à seed pricing à seed distribution.

Main Actors of the Seed Chain

Basic research: both the public and private sectors
Varietal development: over the long-term, private sector should do this
Seed production, processing and marketing: private sector; govt. to improve infra, tax incentives, credit
Quality control: private seed companies with govt. supervision

See also:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Clearing the Abandoned House

There was once a house on  one of the hills in the Millora Farm. It has been abandoned since the late 80s perhaps. The structure is still there but wild trees and vines have already colonized it. Our farm caretakers, Nong Endring and Danny are industrious enough to clear those invading vines and wild trees. Pictures taken last Sunday, February 15.

It is difficult to remove those thick and elaborate vines plus wild trees. A grasscutter borrowed from the barangay made the work of the two men easier.

I remember I and some friends from UP Sapul came here and we slept for one night in this house, sometime in 1983 or 84. Our good friend, Mil Millora, brought us there. Mill has passed away in a car accident in December 1986.

Two years ago, this is how the abandoned house looked. Before the clearing, the house could hardly be seen because of the thick layers of vines and  wild trees.

See also Trees Colonizing an Abandoned House, February 21, 2013 

Hoping for a Mango Harvest This Year

We have not harvested any mangos in  the farm  over the past three or four years already. The cecid fly or "kurikong manga" has been attacking many farms including ours that resulted in often complete wipe out of potential harvests.

Below, some of our mango trees in the Millora Farm. Our farm caretaker, Nong Endring Paragas, was showing me the areas that they have cleaned. Pictures taken  last Sunday, February 15.

We do not spray our mangos, other people specialize in doing it. They spray for flower induction, when the flowers come out, they take care of them and spray various insecticides (leaf hoppers, fruit flies, various insects and pests) until they become small fruits and so on. Before, the sharing of the harvest was 60-40 in favor of the mango sprayer/s. Recently, with huge losses by mango sprayers, the sharing is 70-30 in favor of the sprayers. The past 3 or 4 years, the sprayers in the farm suffered heavy losses because of the kurikong manga attacks.

This year, a businessman sprayer from Central Pangasinan sprayed the mangos, 70-30 sharing. His team seems sophisticated enough to  control the cecid fly attacks. Here are the young fruits as of last Sunday. They seem plentiful. To have optimum  harvest, there should be only 3-4 fruits per "tangkay" or mini-branch. If there are 5 or more, the fruits are small as the tree will  have difficulty supplying nutrients to the fruits.

Another tree with plentiful young fruits. Soon the fruits will reach the soil as they grow heavier each day, the branches will  be supported with short posts so that the fruits will not touch the  soil and be exposed to other potential pests.

There are indicators that cecid fly have come, like these two young fruits. On the left, it has turned yellow and getting dry; on the right, there are black spots, indicator of pest attack. The other "tangkays" have lost all of their young fruits.

Nong Endring and his son Danny are very industrious in cleaning up the farm, removing tall and dry cogon and  other grasses, then burn the grasses. Grass fires occur yearly, not necessarily on the same spot.

Our two dogs accompany Nong Endring when he goes around. There are some wild snakes that are roaming around in some areas, these crawlers are scared of dogs, they quickly run away if they hear footsteps and dogs barking.

Last year, a huge grassfire from a neighboring farm crossed the boundary and burned a number of our mango trees. See the gray, dried leaves.

Another tree that was burned last year.

We really hope that we can harvest and eat mangos from the farm this year. Crossing our fingers.

See also: 
Upland mangos sweeter than lowland mangos?, June 12, 2007 
Cecid Fly or "Kurikong Manga", March 19, 2012

Denuded Uplands, Western Pangasinan

Photos below taken last January 24, 2015, from a hill of Mt. Zion, just next to our farm in Bugallon, Pangasinan. More specifically, this is the hill where the 14th and last of the Stations of the Cross is erected. Below, top view is towards Lingayen Gulf and the sea. Lower two photos are towards the uplands.

The public forest land is generally denuded of big trees. Only small, regenerating trees, grasses and vines thrive here. There is annual grassfire, plus intrusion by small illegal logging for firewood, lumber and charcoal making.

Across this river is another barangay of Bugallon. I noticed there is a newly-constructed dam, it's good. It should be able to irrigate rice fields and vegetable farms below.

See also:
Denuded mountains, March 31, 2009
New Upland Dwellers and the DENR, August 21, 2013
From Forestland to Grassland, September 21, 2012 

On Grass Fire, April 17, 2014

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

My Treehouse is 11 Years Old

My treehouse is now 11 years old. Two-storey, all wood except the roof, perched on a big and live  mahogany tree. The trunk on the ground  and 2nd floor gets bigger and fatter while the roof is rising, every year.

The trees around the treehouse are getting bigger and taller too, some have been harvested already and younger trees beside them grow bigger and taller. Photos taken last January 24, 2015, by my sis in law, Baby.

Our youngest visitor from Manila, few months old Yoshi with her Mama. Below, Elle Marie.

My wife Ella, Bien, Elle, their Tita Baby and cousin Yoshi.

They walked at a nearby creek, still within the farm.